Thursday, 10 December 2015

Another in-goal question....

I was reffing a game recently. The attacking side kicked the ball into the dead ball area and the defender deliberately knocked it over the dead ball line. What should I have given?
Hi Peter

The important thing to remember when the ball goes dead in-goal is not who made it dead, but who put the ball into in-goal.

  • If the attackers put the ball into in-goal and it is made dead, the result is a 22 drop out.
  • If the defenders put the ball into in-goal and it is made dead, the result is a 5m attacking scrum.

However you say in your question that "the defender deliberately knocked it over the dead ball line".

What we need to know is 'how' he knocked it over?  If he kicked the ball over the dead ball line, then it has been made dead legally and since the attackers put the ball into in-goal, the result is a 22 drop out.

But, if the defender threw or knocked the ball with his hand or arm, then we are looking at foul play and the sanction is a penalty kick.  What's more, if knocking the ball dead illegally prevented an attacker from grounding the ball, then we are looking at a penalty try and a yellow card.

10.2 UNFAIR PLAY(c) Throwing into touch. A player must not intentionally knock, place, push or throw the ball with his arm or hand into touch, touch-in-goal, or over the dead ball line.
Sanction: Penalty kick on the 15-metre line if the offence is between the 15-metre line and the touchline, or, at the place of infringement if the offence occured elsewhere in the field of play, or, 5 metres from the goal line and at least 15 metres from the touchline if the infringement occured in in-goal.
A penalty try must be awarded if the offence prevents a try that would probably otherwise have been scored.

Don't forget, if you have a question on the Laws or Rugby Union you can email for an answer.

The Rugby Ref

Monday, 7 December 2015

In-Goal Area

I was refereeing a game on Sunday.
An attacking player made a break and ran to the in goal area pursued by a defender. The attacking player has a habit of running around and facing the pitch before he places the ball for a try. In this instance he lost control of the ball as he went to place it down and the ball went backwards.
The defender flicked out a boot and kicked the ball into a teammate running back. The ball cannoned back across the goal line and the another player from the attacking side dived on the ball.
I awarded a try to the second attacking player.
Needless to say I got accused of many things …being blind was probably the most polite….as the majority of people felt that I had not seen the first player not ground the ball properly.
I was comfortable I had made the right decision until a colleague of mine (a very knowledgeable rugby man) questioned my decision saying that he had lost control of the ball in grounding the ball.
Did I make the right call or if not what should I have done
Many thanks

Hi David

Let's break this down in stages to make sure The Rugby Ref has read it correctly.

Attacker runs into in-goal, so the attackers have "taken it in"*.
From your description the attacker drops the ball backwards, so 'not' a knock-on.

Thought - At this point the ball is still live, play on.

A defender kicks the ball back into the field of play (so in the direction his team are playing).
The ball hits one of his own team.  Since this player is in front of the last player from his team to play the ball, he is in an offside position and has interfered with play.

Thought - Penalty advantage to the attackers.

The ball now goes from this offside player back into in-goal, so the defenders have now "taken it in"*.
Another attacking player dives on the ball.

Thought - Try scored.
* NB: It's important to know who took the ball into in-goal in the event that the ball had gone dead.
  • Attackers take it in, made dead, equals a 22 drop out.
  • Defenders take it in, made dead, equals a 5m attacking scrum.
The doubts seem to be around whether losing control of the ball (backwards) in in-goal should have stopped play?
It shouldn't.
All infringements in the in-goal are treated as if they had taken place in the field of play.

Yes the attacker lost control of the ball, but it didn't go forward from his hands, so it isn't a knock on.
Had this happened in the middle of the field you would have played on.  In-goal in this instance is no different.

There was a lot going on there David in a short space of time, difficult for any referee to think through clearly.  But assuming The Rugby Ref has interpreted your description correctly, then you were correct.  Try given.

Well done.
The Rugby Ref

Advantage....who decides?

Discovered your blog through Rugbyrefs and am impressed with your answers and explanations.
Question - Under law 8.5(a) where a team infringes for a 2nd time and advantage cannot be played or does not accrue , the ref applies the sanction most advantageous to the non-offending team - does he have to/may he/should he give the non-offending captain an option as to what is 'most advantageous' or does he have to decide that himself without consulting the captain, like he does when 'playing advantage' ?
Law 8.1(a) gives the ref a wide discretion as to whether advantage occurred and makes him the sole judge thereof - does this mean (pertaining to the question) that the ref may do as he wishes or does it mean that he cannot 'delegate' his duty ito law 8.5(a) ? 
Thank you for your insightful views.

Hi Johan

Thank you for the compliments.

To answer the first part of the question we turn to Law 8.1 (a)
(a) The referee is sole judge of whether or not a team has gained an advantage. The referee has wide discretion when making decisions.
The referee would only offer an option where the law stipulates one for the offence.  However if the referee calls advantage some teams may shout "we'll take the penalty please Sir".  Most referee's see nothing wrong with this.  In your scenario the referee will decide, usually based on which offence is the more serious.

To answer the second part, the referee is sole judge, but must make his decisions within the framework of the law.

Many consider the law on advantage to be the most important one in the book, as it allows the referee to keep the game flowing, without disadvantaging a team that has been offended against.

Whether to offer an advantage, and which offence is most advantageous if there is more than one, is based upon the referee's experience, as well as guidelines on what types of advantage there are (tactical or territorial) and the criteria for deciding it is over.

The referee must be happy that the advantage is clear and real. A mere opportunity to gain advantage is not enough.

Thanks for the question.
The Rugby Ref

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Ball going into touch, blown back.

The ball was in play the winger kicked the ball for the side line, the ball went outside of the line in the air, the wind blew it back into the playing field, the other teams winger caught it but the ref over ruled the linesman and gave a line out.  The ball never touched the ground outside the line.

Hi Gordon

If the situation is exactly as you describe, then it would appear that the referee may have made a mistake.

This is covered in Law 19 definitions, where it lists when a ball is, or isn't in touch.  As you can see below, if the ball crosses the plane of touch but doesn't touch anyone or anything, then it's not in touch.  If the ball then comes back into the field of play (blown by the wind, but still in the air)....we play on.

Law 19 Touch and Lineout
The ball is in touch when it is not being carried by a player and it touches the touchline or anything or anyone on or beyond the touchline.

Your example did not fulfil the above description, so it is not in touch.

Thanks for the question
The Rugby Ref

Touching the ball down in-goal

Good afternoon,
The ball has been kicked by the attacking team and rolls to a stop in goal. The defender stands next to  the ball and just puts his hands on top of the ball thinking he has touched it down in goal. An attacking then dives on the ball thinking he has scored. His argument is that the defending player had not picked up and placed the ball down, as the ball was static. The question is does the defending player need to pick the ball up and dot it down as the ball was static instead of just putting downward pressure on say a moving ball.
Hi Mike

The simple answer is, No.  He does not need to pick up the ball, just press down on it.

You seem to mixing up a couple of laws here.

First off, just picking a ball up is not touching it down.  To touch down the ball you need to press down on it, or pick it up and then touch the ground with the ball.

Law 22 tells us this.

22.1 Grounding the Ball
There are two ways a player can ground the ball:
(a) Player touches the ground with the ball. A player grounds the ball by holding the ball and touching the ground with it, in in-goal. ‘Holding’ means holding in the hand or hands, or in the arm or arms. No downward pressure is required.
(b) Player presses down on the ball. A player grounds the ball when it is on the ground in the in-goal and the player presses down on it with a hand or hands, arm or arms, or the front of the player’s body from waist to neck inclusive.
You are then mixing that up with a couple of laws that relate to picking up a moving or static ball. These laws indicate whether a ball has been taken over a line by the kicker or the picker up.  This principle can apply (for instance) to a touchline, the 22, the goal line, or the dead ball line.  Here is an example.

22.9 Defending Player In In-Goal
(a) A defending player who has part of one foot in in-goal is considered to have both feet in in-goal.
(b) If a player with one or both feet on or behind the goal line, picks up the ball, which was stationary within the field of play, that player has picked up the ball in the field of play and thereby that player has taken the ball into in-goal.
(c) If a player with one or both feet on or behind the goal line picks up the ball, which was in motion within the field of play, that player has picked up the ball within in-goal.
Note that both of the above just indicate the ball has been picked up, not grounded.

The Rugby Ref hopes he has cleared that up for you Mike.
The Rugby Ref